I’ve spent the last couple of evenings behind the glass at focus groups, watching various segments of the population discuss their thoughts on energy and water conservation and react to a host of TV spots on those topics. (We conduct our own proprietary groups twice a year to dig deeper into findings from our quantitative Pulse work and/or to refine questions in our upcoming quantitative studies.)
As we did with our green-themed groups earlier in the year, we broke these groups into audience segments, hosting one group of True Believers, one of Cautious Conservative and Two of Concerned Moms. I’m going to focus on the Moms in this post, and we’ll talk about the other two groups in future posts.
We named them Concerned Moms for a reason. They are concerned…about a lot of things. And those concerns drive how they’re impacted by advertising about energy and the environment:
– We asked all groups the opening question: “When I say the phrase, ‘our country’s energy supply,’ what’s the first thing that pops into your mind?” True Believers and cautious Conservatives went straight for literal definitions — oil, gas, coal, renewables, etc. Both groups of Concerned Moms went right for their concerns, saying things like, “not enough…we’re wasting it…scary.” So the takeaway is that they’re already on the emotional train when it comes to energy issues. As marketers we can meet them there and immediately begin moving them to action.
– They responded really well to TV spots that were down to earth and matter of fact. Though they laughed out loud and identified with the frazzled mom in a Rheem tankless water heater spot, they didn’t rank it as their favorite. And though they cooed over the cute monkeys in the GE Geospring Hot Water Heater ad, it didn’t move them to want to buy. What worked were some of the utility company spots that featured employees or regular looking people very matter of factly giving specific tips/actions one could take and information about rebates available.
– They also responded well to the mention of jobs in the spot from America’s Oil and Natural Gas. That makes sense — they’re nurturers and lionesses…they don’t want to see any family without a bread winner.
– Lastly, though we’ve known they are most motivated by their kids — protecting them, providing for them — there’s a line that marketers should NOT cross. That would be the Line of Guilt. Positive messaging about future generations worked really well. Guilt messaging, i.e. “you’d better change your ways today or else your kids and grandkids will pay the price” really fell flat. It insulted them. We heard comments in response to one such ad (called Flex Your Power) like, “I’ve bent over for my kids…how dare they tell me I haven’t done enough.”
So, if you’re trying to reach Moms — and they’re great targets for anything tied to a utility bill as they’re the ones writing the monthly checks — keep the following in mind:
– Humor works, but only if the humor IS the point of the ad. You can’t mix in rational facts alongside a humor message…the facts will be forgotten.
– Specific, manageable tips from real, down-to-earth people works.
– Promises of protecting future generations and protecting jobs/family work really well…but only if they’re positive. Guilt and fear will have the exact opposite effect.